Top 10 Raiders to watch in preseason finale at Seahawks
Regular season around corner
The Raiders play the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday evening in their exhibition finale. It’s an unimportant affair for most. Starters will play sparingly in a contest at CenturyLink Field with few roster decisions left to be made. There are some tough choices remaining, meaning select players are fighting for a career or a prominent place on the depth chart.
10) Tony Bergstrom, G/C
General manger Reggie McKenzie’s first draft pick – a third-rounder in 2012 – is on the verge of leaving the Raiders for good. His best chance is as a backup center to elite starter Rodney Hudson, but he needs to excel in his final opportunity or risk being cut. Rookie Jon Feliciano is capable of backing Hudson up while doubling as a reserve guard, meaning Bergstrom must fare well against the Seahawks and demand a roster spot that might go to another position group.
9) C.J. Wilson, DL
Wilson was an integral part of last year’s defense, but the versatile lineman seems to have fallen behind younger players this preseason. He barely played in exhibition No. 3 on Sunday, when inexperienced linemen saw important snaps. That’s a bad sign. He needs to prove his experience and talent will help this front seven to steal a roster spot.
8) George Atkinson III, RB/KR
The son of Raiders legend George Atkinson may well be on his way out of Oakland. He doesn’t rank high on the running back depth chart, and must prove his value as a return man to stick around. That seems unlikely, but it’s not impossible given the recent departure of Trindon Holliday and the Raiders’ unsettled search for a return man. He’ll need something spectacular to convince coaches he’s worth keeping as a specialist.
7) Sio Moore, LB
Moore has 22 starts in two professional seasons, most of them of high quality. The third-year pro has been out most of the preseason with injury, but should get a chance to play defense for the first time in the exhibition campaign against the Seahawks. He’s incredibly talented, and needs to show it when he gets the chance. That would be a proper step towards a defined role on this defense, which could use a player of his talents.
6) Ricky Lumpkin, DL
Lumpkin has played well on the interior defensive line and is fighting for a roster spot in a surprisingly competitive position group. Solid interior pressure against the run and pass could assert a claim for inclusion and make it tough for him to be a final cut. He might have to show way better than Stacy McGee, who received first-unit reps on Sunday against Arizona.
5) Taylor Mays, S
The recently-signed veteran produced mixed results on Sunday against Arizona, just days after signing with the Raiders. He needs to correct mistakes quickly and show improvement in his role as a run-stopping safety in the box to unseat others in his position group who have performed well and been here longer.
4) Austin Howard, RT
The sixth-year veteran spent most of the preseason on the second team, but has moved into the starting lineup with Menelik Watson placed on injured reserve after rupturing a left Achilles’ tendon. Howard has played tons of right tackle this preseason, especially on Sunday against Arizona. It’s unlikely anything from this game will change his status as a regular-season starter, but a quality first-unit cameo could inspire confidence in Howard as he takes Watson’s spot.
3) Matt McGloin, QB
McGloin remains behind No. 2 signal-caller Christian Ponder heading into the final exhibition. He has pulled a few rabbits out of his hat this preseason, something common this time of year. He seems stuck as the No. 3 guy in 2015, but more quality game tape could make him an increasingly attractive target in the trade market or after regular season’s end, when he becomes a restricted free agent. Whether there’s something on the line or not, it’s guaranteed McGloin will compete hard in a game meaningless to most.
2) SaQwan Edwards, CB
The undrafted rookie has played quality football this preseason, and should be on a short list to become the Raiders’ fifth cornerback. He isn’t the only athlete in this mix, and his play against the Seahawks could prove vital to his inclusion on the 53-man roster. He’s a bigger, physical cornerback and needs to be at his best in an important showcase to prove his worth.
1) Dexter McDonald, CB
The Raiders’ last seventh-round pick is a rangy, tough cover man who fits the team’s modern mold for cornerbacks. McDonald has had an uneven preseason, but worked his way up the depth chart a few weeks back and can eek onto this roster as opposed to being relegated to the practice squad. He’ll need to show well and make some quality plays on the ball to state his case.